Meet Gregg. Gregg is the founder of Myndbend Multimedia, Inc. which develops enterprise-level, integrated apps for Zendesk, and provides other SaaS-related services that enhance and expand a platform’s capabilities. For more than 7 years, Myndbend has built apps for clients who need unique functionality within Zendesk to facilitate and automate their processes. Let’s hear more about Myndbend’s journey as a Zendesk development shop.
How did you first get started with Zendesk and what prompted you to build on Zendesk’s platform? Was there a specific problem you were trying to solve?
Myndbend started in 2001 with custom web development projects that demanded heavy customer support. After several years of using email as the primary means for customer service communication, we found Zendesk and immediately saw how it could simplify and automate our interactions with clients and vendors.
Soon after we began using Zendesk internally, we realized that it would be useful to connect it with Freshbooks to organize our billing process by tracking time for each ticket. At the time, Zendesk didn’t offer a time-tracking feature, so we built our own integration with Freshbooks. This “widget” for the old Zendesk UI jump-started our entry into the exciting world of app development.
So you started as a customer of Zendesk, encountered a problem that you solved by building an app — then what happened?
In 2010, I reached out to folks familiar with our apps at Zendesk to explore collaborative opportunities, and it wasn’t long before we were approached by Zendesk to build other apps for its customers — providing implementation services, customization, data migration and design Help Centers.
By customizing, implementing and establishing best practices in Zendesk for our customers, we learned a lot about what core functionality we could build upon to facilitate agent productivity. Specifically, we saw three key enhancements needed to improve customer engagement: 1) to use Zendesk internally for assignments to other departments, 2) to establish a network of approvals and 3) to enforce a workflow.
Initially we focused on the IT change process, and then expanded to handle any process that needs to be automated within Zendesk including HR onboarding.
So we evolved from being a custom website development shop/agency to a Zendesk consultancy and now to Zendesk Apps Marketplace developers.
That’s quite a journey for Myndbend, where is the company today in terms of growth?
Myndbend has four public apps in the marketplace:
- Myndbend Process Manager Lite
- Myndbend Process Manager Premium
- Myndbend Ticket Reminder
- Myndbend Article Search and Subscribe
We’ve seen 55% increase in gross sales since 2016.
Looking back to when you first built a Zendesk app, what sort of changes have you seen over the years?
The Zendesk marketplace evolved as it became more popular. We started building apps (then called “widgets”) before the first app framework was rolled out. The early iterations of apps gave developers a lot of flexibility, however small changes could break the app or break the whole agent interface. Once the framework was introduced, it helped developers follow patterns that were widely tested and isolated to ease support. Apps would collide less, and user experience became smoother.
Zendesk has focused its investment on the API and App Frameworks — areas that are key to developer success. This includes the ability to charge for apps within the Zendesk Apps Marketplace, and lead customers through the installation and configuration steps.
What is it like working with Zendesk and being part of the Apps Marketplace ecosystem?
The Apps Marketplace is more than just a place to list your apps, it comes with a community of like-minded partners, developers and Zendesk experts. We try to get the most out of it, and have forged lasting relationships with collaborative partners we found through the marketplace. Zendesk itself has opened up horizons for us that we never thought possible.
For example, we initially targeted IT departments to install our Myndbend Process Manager app (then called Myndbend Change Manager). After discussions with Zendesk consultants, customers and other partners, we refined the app to work in any functional area.
Undoubtedly, Zendesk and its customers have refined our business focus, bolstering our confidence and contributing to our success.
How does the Zendesk Apps Framework and Developer Platform compare to other platforms you’ve built on?
Through Zendesk’s Slack group, we are able to get questions answered quickly, learn about upcoming features, and receive notifications of late-breaking changes. With Zendesk Apps Framework’s advanced functionality, well-documented examples, and emphasis on community, Zendesk’s Developer Platform is one of the best platforms that we’ve worked with.
Seeing as you are somewhat of a veteran, what advice would you give someone who is building their first app/integration with Zendesk?
- Spend time getting a good understanding of the API and framework features before building your app. The framework may have a shortcut that will save you time and run more efficiently in the browser.
- Join the Slack group early on — it’s helpful when you’re stumped, and keeps you connected and up to speed.
- Keep the complexity of the app low at first. Make sure the app works well and loads quickly before introducing additional features.
- Don’t scrimp on content development — be sure to have an expert technical writer with usability expertise create and review help guidance, error messages, automated emails, labels, menus, etc. Same with sales & marketing — involve them from the beginning to ensure optimal user experience, sellability, and brand consistency.
- Focus on one small problem to solve for your customers. Install a private app for a trusted few, and iterate features. However, don’t wait too long to get something out to the public. Sometimes the “perfect” app is great for a few customers, but not useful enough for the masses.
Knowing what you know today, what advice would you give yourself when you first joined the Zendesk Apps Marketplace?
- Learn what core features are most important to your active users, and build upon those incrementally. In other words, don’t waste time developing features that solve problems your customers don’t care enough about. Run your feature ideas by trusted mentors in the field to make sure your “solution” doesn’t create unanticipated problems for your customers, and to make sure your idea is unique and valuable enough for customers to invest time, money and effort into implementing it.
- Don’t listen to every customer’s suggestions and requests — try to find the root of what they are struggling with and find out if others have the same struggle. When your customer makes a suggestion, make note of the problem behind it, and offer other related solutions they hadn’t considered. When you help them realize what’s possible, you will become their go-to source for ideas.
- Be sure to on-board your customers in a well-thought-out process with clearly communicated steps. Always respond promptly to communications, and check in regularly.
- Don’t wait for customers to find you — work hard to promote your app. Create a strategic plan for marketing that identifies best channels for a well-defined customer profile, rather than simply trying to reach as many people as possible.
- Inspire your ideal and trusted customers to be your evangelists. Motivate them by giving them specific opportunities to sing your praises.